In its solicitation for applications, the agency said the seed funding was aimed at supporting "exploration of transformational ideas that hold the potential to greatly impact the field of human
stem cell research." The expectation is that these awards will provide more information that will help generate more funding to carry the efforts forward.
"Great ideas" is how Gil Sambrano, the agency's director of portfolio and review, described the round in a slide prepared for the meeting of the governing board of the agency next Thursday. Board approval of the positive recommendations by the reviewers is routine. At that point, the agency will identify the winners but not the unsuccessful applicants.
The field of applicants began at 101 earlier this year and was winnowed down to 60 before the final 18 were selected.
Approval of the applications was performed behind closed doors by the agency's blue-ribbon, out-of-state reviewers. The identities of reviewers in a specific round are not disclosed nor are their professional and economic interests.
None of the awards exceeds $238,000. Researchers will receive only a maximum of $150,000 for "direct costs." The excess goes to the institution or business involved for a variety of overhead costs. Duration of the awards varies.